Stories from the NFCCA Newsletter, the “Northwood News”

Northwood News ♦ June 2018

Montgomery County Unmaintained Vacant Property Law

By Linda Perlman

Are you frustrated by the number of vacant and apparently abandoned houses in our neighborhood?  Vacant and unmaintained houses can be blights on the neighborhood, attract neighborhood crime, drive down nearby home values, and deter new families from purchasing homes here.

Montgomery County Council Bill No. 39-16, which became effective on August 11, 2017, adds a new Article III, Unmaintained Vacant Property, to Chapter 26, Housing and Building Maintenance Standards, of the Montgomery County Code.  This bill seeks to address the problem of vacant properties that plague our neighborhoods and to provide the County with an additional tool to monitor and hold negligent and absentee owners accountable for the appearance and safety of their properties.

7414 Cedar Avenue, Takoma Park

The vacant property bill applies to unmaintained vacant residential dwellings and condominium units; mandates regular inspections of unmaintained dwellings; and requires the owners of unmaintained dwellings to pay fees for inspection, after the initial inspection, based on an increasing fee schedule.

The factors for determining whether or not a dwelling is vacant include:  (1) “past due” utility notices and/or disconnected utilities; (2) accumulated mail; (3) no window covering; (4) no furniture observable; (5) open accessibility; (6) deferred maintenance; and (7) the dwelling is boarded-up.

Vacant dwellings that are not maintained to the standards of the County’s property maintenance code are required to be inspected at least annually by the County in order to ensure that the dwelling complies with the property maintenance code and that the vacancy of the dwelling is not detrimental to the public health, safety, and welfare; a hazard to police officers or firefighters entering the dwelling in an emergency; or a public nuisance.  In addition to the inspection fees, vacant unmaintained dwellings can be cited for violations of the County’s property maintenance code and fines for violations imposed.

The unmaintained vacant property law does not apply to:  (1) government property; (2) property under active construction, renovation, repair or demolition; (3) property in the process of probate or foreclosure proceedings for up to two years; or (4) property that is properly maintained.

In addition, the following may be exempted from the designation of “unmaintained vacant dwelling”:  (1) residential dwellings for sale or rent (for up to one year); (2) property seeking development approval (for up to one year); and (3) property in probate (for up to two years).  The total time period that a vacant unmaintained dwelling can be exempted cannot exceed three years.

To report a vacant unmaintained dwelling in our neighborhood, call 311 or go online to file a complaint ( and click on “Create Service Request.”  You will need to provide the exact street address or specific location of the alleged violation along with a brief description of your complaint.   ■

   © 2018 NFCCA  [Source:]